Firstly I wanted to apologize for not updating my blog for so long! It has been quite busy here so I have found it hard to update my personal blog. I have however been updating the team blog ( http://aeekigaliautumn2014.wordpress.com/) so go and check that out if you want a little more detail on the work we are doing in Kigali.
So I am going to be brutally honest. A lot of people will try to sugarcoat volunteering, telling you only the good things that have been happening and conveniently missing out the issues and struggles. I am so guilty of this! The problem is there are issues and you will get frustrated. We are in a new country, a new environment and we have to deal with lots of different problems. Such as culture shock, the heat, the food, being ill and sometimes a feeling of uselessness. For the first week I felt so useless, lazy, unable to do the work and weak. We were doing a lot of field work such as irrigation (a fancy way of saying watering), planting banana trees, visiting beneficiaries of AEE (African Evangelistic Enterprise) and being asked advice when quite frankly I just didn’t know what to say (or that I was qualified to say anything).
It was really hard to get used to, these were things I had never done and I just felt like such a failure. To top it all off getting work for us to do was very difficult, we couldn’t teach English to the children until November as they had exams, the staff never seemed to have office work for us to do (through no fault of their own) and it was all very slow. That meant I had that much more time to over think everything, I wondered what I was doing here, why did I think I could help anyone, I should just go home.
Luckily I had a supportive team to help me through it all. In fact we were probably feeling similar so it was almost easier, to know that I wasn’t suffering alone. That sounds awful but there really is nothing worse than feeling like no-one can understand what you are going through. These feelings would be like a fleeting wind, there one minute and gone the next. It was certainly an emotional roller coaster. However as I became busier and more used to the work we were doing I started to feel much better about the experience. I felt like we were really helping, even if it was in a small way. The understanding that we were building on the previous teams work was helpful.
I think that the impact we make cannot always be seen. We may never see that banana tree we planted fully grown, we may not even be able to taste its bananas. But that doesn’t matter, we put into motion something tangible and real. Just because you do not see the effect doesn’t mean its not there. The advice we gave to those beneficiaries could have been invaluable to them. They might put our words into actions and this could benefit their lives abundantly. The point is that we must believe our actions and words are important, they have an effect on the people around us and they shape our world, which in turn will shape the wider world. This is why we need to think carefully about what we say and do, and be thankful for every opportunity we get to change the worlds around us. Not everyone is lucky enough to do this and not everyone has a say in their own world.
So do not worry if you feel discouraged, I believe it is just a part of the process. We might not change the world immediately but we can all put into motion something that will. All you need is a drop to create a ripple.
I feel like this bible verse is appropriate: 1 Corinthians 15:58- Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Murakose (Thank-you) for reading and God bless you